The Numismatic Bibliomania Society



The E-Sylum: Volume 20, Number 12, March 19, 2017, Article 18


It's always a treat for numismatists when an old collection comes to market after being off the scene for decades. Vicken Yegparian describes such a collection in his March 15, 2017 Stack's Bowers blog. here's an excerpt. -Editor

Gordon Shaw collection

​The name Dr. Gordon Shaw is likely unknown to all but a few of today's New Jersey copper collectors. He began collecting coins seriously in the early 1980s, focusing on U.S. type coins, large cents, colonial type coins, and New Jersey coppers, with most of his efforts dedicated to the last two specialties. Though he hailed from Chicago, he found the history of New Jersey and its coinage fascinating; his personal connection to the state came through his wife Margie, who was originally from there. His most avid collecting period was from about 1981 to 1994, and as his purchases of U.S. coins became fewer, his dedication to New Jersey coppers grew.

Dr. Shaw began his New Jersey coppers collection 1981, and at first he mostly purchased modest coins from fellow collector Richard August. He expanded his reach, increasing his sources to include auction companies like Bowers and Ruddy (later Bowers and Merena), Stack's and Early American Numismatics (Dana Linett). From EAN he acquired some significant coins from the famous Garrett Collection, the sale of which immediately preceded his entry into active collecting. The decade spanning 1983 to 1993 featured the auction sales of many significant colonial and specifically New Jersey coppers collections by Bowers and Merena and Stack's. These allowed Dr. Shaw to add countless varieties to his set, including great rarities, Condition Census coins, and pieces pedigreed to significant collections. By the time his collecting activities ceased circa 1994, Dr. Shaw had collected 101 different Maris numbers, many of superb quality, achieving a goal most collectors can only dream of.

The statistics of Dr. Shaw's collection are interesting. Stack's Bowers received 167 New Jersey coppers from the Shaw family, including five duplicates that are being returned to the family as keepsakes of their beloved husband and father. The remaining 162 pieces at first represented 101 Maris numbers, including Maris 78-dd (actually a die state of Maris 77-dd) and Maris 82-hh (now better known as a fantastic flipover double strike of Maris 36-J). Subtracting these two Maris numbers leaves us with 99 die combinations. During the course of cataloging the sale, we discovered three incorrect attributions, chiefly from the 1983 GSNA Auction by Kurt Krueger. Netting these out leaves us with 96 die combinations, still a significant feat, given that there are 144 total possible die combinations, 28 of which are R-8 or unique. In the end, Dr. Shaw collected 83% of the 116 die combinations that are not prohibitively rare.

As we know, Dr. Shaw early on acquired some coins from the Garrett Collection sale, and he quickly learned that "ex Garrett Collection" meant a coin that was often the best in its class and always highly sought after. In his decade or so of collecting, he added 16 coins from the Garrett Collection, 15 of which were also from Dr. Edward Maris' own famous collection sold at auction in 1886. Several of these were plate coins in Maris' landmark photographic plate that accompanied his magnum opus A Historical Sketch of the Coins of New Jersey, published in 1881. These Maris-Garrett coins are avidly sought by astute collectors today, as they are often significant for their quality. At the very least they are historical connections to the nascent days of New Jersey copper collecting. And it has been decades since this many ex Garrett New Jersey coppers have been offered in a single venue.

The significant pedigrees do not end at Maris and Garrett, however. Dr. Shaw managed to collect coins that from collections representing a Who's Who of colonial and New Jersey numismatics of the last century and a half: Bushnell, Parsons, Mills, Stickney, Hays, Hall, Brand, Green, Ryder, Boyd, Spiro, Deats, Douglas, Downing, Norweb, Bareford, Foreman, Oechsner, Hessberg, Sherr, Roper, Picker, Taylor, Ford, H. Garrett, Anton, and August.

The dispersal of Dr. Shaw's collection represents an opportunity for collectors of all stripes.

To read the complete article, see:
New Jersey Coppers Featuring the Collection of Dr. Gordon Shaw (

Wayne Homren, Editor

NBS ( Web

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